Austin's first elected Hispanic mayor Gus Garcia passes away at age 84

photo credit: AISD (12-17-18)

Political trailblazer Gus Garcia, the first Hispanic elected to the Austin ISD Board of Directors, and the city's first elected Hispanic mayor has died.

Garcia has been a major force in Austin politics for decades.  

He was first elected to the Austin Independent School District board in 1972.  Garcia served on the Austin City Council for more than 10 years and on the Austin school board for six years. He helped integrate schools and end housing discrimination. He served on the school board, opposing discrimination and pushed for more minorities to be hired in the schools.

In 1991 Garcia was elected to the Austin City Council.  He was re-elected to council in 1993 and 1997. Then in 2001, he became Austin’s first Hispanic mayor, serving until 2003.

Garcia was born in the border town of Zapata in 1934, where his father ran a small grocery store. Garcia met his wife Marina Gonzalez in Laredo and they married in 1957. Shortly after, the couple moved to Austin where Garcia enrolled at the University of Texas. 

“We feel a community-wide heavy heart as a one of our greatest Austin giants moves on,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler posted on Twitter. “Mayor Garcia focused our city as no one had setting us on a course to seek equity and justice for all of Austin. I will miss my friend and teacher.”

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk released a statement Monday. 

"Mayor Gus Garcia was an extraordinary public servant. All of us should strive to emulate Mayor Garcia's dedication to Austin.” 

Garcia is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Marina Gonzalez,  and by their three sons and five grandchildren.